Book Review: A Homemade Life

by - 3:09:00 PM

Disclaimer: I hope this post makes sense. It's really just my thoughts as they are: jumbled and messy. 

Some of the ladies in our neighborhood have started a book club - with a huge disclaimer in the invitation that it is really an excuse to get together, without children, chat, and of course eat. This month our assigned reading was: A Homemade Life by: Molly Wizenberg. 

One of my favorite quotes from the book is her reference to marriage:

"That's how I know we're going to be all right. Because being the person I want to be feels easier when he is around." 

It resonates true to my view of my marriage. D, you really make me the luckiest girl in the world. Being with you makes me a better person, and it is so, so, so easy to be with you. It has been ever since our first 'real' chat on the couch at the Hughes' house. I adore you. 

Though it's my favorite quote, it's not really the "feel" I took from the book. 

This book is a hybrid of the author's memories and recipes that accompany them. While I didn't read the book as a whole, I did dip into different parts it. Tonight is our book club "meeting" and we were asked to make a recipe from the book and bring it to share. I was flipping through some of the recipes, deciding what to make, but all I could think about was my own recipes, my mom's recipes, and food that 'takes me back' (so to speak). 

My mom is a great cook. She can often be found in the kitchen, working on something. She can take nothing, and make a delicious warm, family style meal in no time. Rarely does my mom use a recipe, and when she does, it's usually from the cookbook my elementary school put together when I was but a wee lass. 

Some of my best childhood memories stem from something fresh out of the oven, or our family gathered around a hot meal at the table. 

My mom makes perfect, white, homemade bread. Fresh out of the oven...there's no saying what I would do for an end piece. Let me paint the picture perfect scenario: walking in the back door from high school, the smell (you know the one, the one of freshly baked bread), tossing my backpack, the bread sits on the cutting board, and the tub of butter open next to it. Then, we would tear off a hunk (and I say hunk because I mean, hunk, large and massive hunk). And with no reservations, dip it directly into the tub of butter. At least an entire loaf was dedicated to this cause every time a batch was baked. To this day, it's known that I have a standing reservation with the "butt."

When I was younger, my mom would can salsa. Actually, she canned everything. Really, everything. Over the years, I think the severity of the process has died off... but she canned salsa longer than any other preserves. The process would take days. The smell clings to your clothes, and lingers in the house for days afterward. Gag. It really makes me want to gag, and I can literally smell the awful smell right now. Then, in more recent years, she's turned to making fresh salsa on a regular basis, and not so much canning. And the salsa is delicious  Little of it makes it to the table, as we all open bags of chips and dig in (even before the batch is finished). We stand around the counter, dipping, and double dipping (to Haylee's disgust), and elbowing one another out of the way. 

My parents always encouraged family meals. My mom makes breakfast nearly every morning, and we ate together. I complained about it as a teen (actually, there was very little I did not complain about as a teen), but now adore the idea of warm breakfast as a family and hope that one day I will be able to drag my lazy bum out of bed to do this for my family.  We ate dinner  every night as a family; there are very few excuses the parentals would accept as legitimate reasons to miss it. Everyone was expected to be at the table for dinner. Everyone helped in preparation, everyone helped in clean up. My family growing up was (is) loud. Dinners were rambunctious, obnoxious, and always out of control. As we got older (and by we I mean the seven children in the Harrison household), dinners turned into a bully station (and by bully, I mean we - the seven children - would openly tease our parents). Really, some of my greatest memories. (Mom: "I think..." and I literally just laughed out loud typing that - sorry for the inside joke, I am well aware it's rude to reference inside jokes when few people will understand them. I'm rude.)

Anyway, that's what this book took me back to (and many more memories, but this tangent has seemed to go on for far too long anyway). So, tonight, for the party - I'm making fresh salsa. Because that's what I took out of the book. I adore my memories around food more than I love the actual food (and for those who know me, know that's a whole lot of adoring). 

I hope my mom knows how much these things meant to me. As a mother myself now, I'm sure there were times that she felt it pointless to prepare a meal, or to try and force everyone to the table at once. But, she did it, and while doing it taught me some of the most important life lessons. I'll forever aspire to be like her, making a homemade life that my children try and emulate. 

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